Throwing a Wine Country Party Right in Your Own Backyard

There is no better way to bring friends together then over a glass (or two) of robust wine. Throwing your own tasting is the perfect excuse to get those friends together. Typically, these types of wine parties are held in wine making parts of the world, with tables overlooking the grape vines. Yet there is no good reason why wine country can’t come to your own backyard.

If you make the right choices in music, food, decorations and of course wine, your wine country party will have the same feel as those being hosted in Napa Valley. Make your backyard the backdrop, and the wine will take care of the rest.

Get Your Backyard Ready

To make it as an exotic locale as possible, have plenty of live plants in your flower beds and in potted containers around the patio and deck. This will give your yard a country flair to enhance your party. If you have a dog that is usually free to roam the yard, make sure that he is tied up tight for the event. Better yet, use a wireless K9 fence to keep him confined to a certain area away from the party. With a wireless pet containment system, he still has the freedom he craves, while you are treated to a safe pet and a pet free zone in your yard.

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The music you choose should match the region from which the wine you are serving is from. Cumbia and rumba is fun with Spanish wines, while French café music will set the mood if you are featuring wines from France. If you are hosting a California wine tasting you can have some real fun and play the Beach Boys and other music from the Golden state.

You will also need to serve food for your wine country party. Finger foods are always more fun as they help to keep the party casual. A variety of cheeses with crackers, antipasto salads and finger sandwiches are all good choices. You could even go a bit fancier and have a grill set up to serve hot seared shrimp, scallops, lobster tails and chicken breasts. Light food is best for these types of events in order for the guests to truly appreciate the variety of wines.

The wine you choose should be themed in some wine, and preferably by region. Some people have success with just a white or red party, but there are always discerning guests whose preference is not being met.

A wine country party is something unexpected and daring for a summer evening of fun. If you plan ahead and theme the party right, you and your guests are likely to make this a yearly tradition.

Barrells and Beards: One of the Most Original Wine Tastings on the Planet

Just a quick ride from Cape Town in Botrivier in the Overberg takes place one of the most unique wine tasting celebrations you will encounter. Each year in April, thousands flock to this small area for the harvest, and to partake in great wine, exhilarating entertainment and a best beard contest.

The beard competition just goes to show the quirky personality of this part of the world. Starting in February, the men put the beard trimmers to the side and let nature take its course. Sales of beard balm sky rocket as the growth of whiskers increases, and the male participants get used to their new look. There are no real rules, and no set qualifications, making it a coin toss whether the winning beard will be a full on biker beard or a carefully trimmed goatee.

barrels-poster2_Challenge_frontOf course there is first a parade of beards that ends with a local dinner and samplings of the local wines. The real wine tasting is in the morning, where local wines are blind tasted against well known international brands. Criteria for the winning wines include taste, smell and texture. Despite the beard parade, this is the most surprising part of the event, as visitors find that the grapes grown here are making wines that are equal to, if not better, than many of the top sellers on the planet.

Everywhere you turn, you are treated to local music being performed within arm’s reach, local cuisine and local personality. This is a lively event that culminates with the auctioning off of a barrel of the best of the best in local wine. Proceeds from this are used to fund particular needs of the town, like school books for the kids or road repairs.

Despite the large number of people, the town is spacious making it free from being too crowded. Tickets are pre-purchased each year and include entry into all of the barrel tastings plus lunch or dinner. There are dozens of local restaurants with a unique flair that are reasonably priced to cover your other meal needs.

Spring is ripe for wine tastings all over the world, but this out of the way spot offers much more than you bargained for. The wine is sharp and tangy, the food incredible, and the music the type that makes your toes tap. All of this and a beard contest? It is no wonder that the venue keeps growing in popularity ever year.

How to Taste Wine

"Wine tasting". Licensed under ">CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Wine tasting“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

When it comes to wine, there is a certain way to go about tasting it. You don’t just simply fill up a glass and then drink it down. Doing so will not allow you to get the full effect of the wine. When throwing a wine tasting party, or attending one, it is important to know how to properly taste the wine. Below are a few tips to help you out.

1. Tasting Conditions – The first thing you want to check is where you are tasting the wine. For wine tasting, you want a quiet atmosphere with not a lot of other aromas near by. For example, if you are in a crowded and noisy room, it will be hard to concentrate on the tastes. You also don’t want to be standing next to the cheese dip, as the smell may impact how you perceive the wine.

2. Look At It – Next, before you taste the wine, you want to examine how it looks. Your glass should be about 1/3 of the way full for this, and there are several different angels that you will want to examine the wine from. First look at it straight down the glass, then hold it up to the light, and then lastly tilt it. Doing all of these things will allow you to get a look at the full range of colors available in the wine, not just the dark center.

3. Swirl It – Nope, it is still not time to taste it yet. Swirl the wine around in the glass slowly, by keeping it flat on a table (doing it freestyle in the air should be left to experienced wine tasters). You are looking to see if the wine as any “legs” or streaking running down the side of the glass. Those that do are generally more dense and mouth filling than those that do not.

4. Sniff It – Don’t taste it yet! First, you want to sniff at it. Hover your nose above the glass (don’t just plunge your nose it) and take a few quick sniffs. Move the glass away and allow your brain to process all of the information. There is a lot to know about identifying the aromas inside a wine, but for now, simply enjoy the smell of it, and see if you can pick any out that you recognize.

5. Sip It – Finally, after all of that work, you can taste your win. Take a small sip, not a big gulp. Try to suck the wine in as if you were using a straw, as this will help to aerate the wine. See if the tastes inside your mouth match up with the aromas you smelled earlier. Now that you have the wine in your mouth, you can go about identifying it and determining its characteristics. But that is a lesson for another day!

 

Choosing The Right Wine

"Red Wine Glass" by André Karwath aka Aka - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Red Wine Glass” by André Karwath aka AkaOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

If you are going to be throwing a wine tasting party, you will want to make sure you not only have great wines there, but a wide variety of them. In order to that, there are several things you should think about when it comes to choosing the right wine. If you have never picked out wine before, or if you are just looking for some tips to help you find a better selection, we are here to help.

1. Ask an Expert – Remember that you don’t have to make this decision on your own. There are many people out there who are experienced with choosing a wine that can assist you. If you don’t know someone personally, there are usually people at the winery that can help you out. You may not find someone at your local liquor store however, so you will have to go to a place that specializes in selling wine. Give them a rough idea as to what you are looking for, and what you are looking to spend, and they should be able to offer you some great suggestions.

2. Read – Another great way to learn about which wines to get is to read up. Pick up some magazines, read some articles online, or even find some books on the topic. The more you read, the more you will learn about the different types of wine available to you. You will then have more information in your pocket when it comes to choosing the wines. Try and focus on articles that are more recent, as they will have the best information as to what is currently going on in the world of wine.

Also, don’t forget to read the labels of the wine bottles. Often they can give you a lot of information about what to expect from the wine, such as where it is from and what it will taste like. Take the time to go over each label of any wine bottle that you are considering purchasing before you buy it.

3. Expand Your Horizons – For many of us who are into wine, we have a few favorites that we go back to over and over again. While it is fine to enjoy your favorite bottle of wine, don’t let it stop you from trying something new. Be a little adventurous and pick out some wines that you have never tried before. While there’s a chance that you may not like it, there is also a chance that it will become your new favorite, but you won’t know until you give it a shot.

We hope this quick guide was able to give you some pointers on selecting a wine. It really comes down to getting as much information and advice as you can, and then simply making a choice. You can’t know if you will like a wine until you try it, but you can at least pick a wine that you think there is a chance you will enjoy. Also remember that if you are picking out wine for a tasting party, you want to get a wide variety and not simply stick to what you like, as everyone else will have different tastes than you.